Public Awareness

MVP has been involved in two public awareness campaigns, the “Love is not Abuse, Abuse is not Love” campaign in partnership with Liz Claiborne, Inc. and the “Leaders Act” campaign  through one of our parent organizations, Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.  What follows is description of each of these campaigns.


Leaders Act Campaign: Ben Watson poster
Benjamin Watson poster
Leaders Act Campaign: Gabe Kapler poster
Gabe Kapler poster











In 2007, MVP launched  a public awareness campaign, “Leaders Act” highlighting our partnership with the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox.  The campaign, which was designed to draw attention to the serious issue of men’s violence against women,  enlisted New England Patriot Benjamin Watson and Boston Red Sox Gabe Kapler as its spokesman.

“Leaders Act is a simple message. Every person, man or woman, has the power to stand up for victims of violence,” said Watson, a longtime advocate against gender violence. “I have the opportunity to work with Sport in Society toward eradicating men’s violence against women. It is tremendously important for me as an athlete to set an example.”

The campaign, which was developed by the integrated marketing communications agency Manasian Inc., uses the power and appeal of professional athletes to help create awareness about men’s violence against women and to stop the abuse. It features one of Sport in Society’s flagship programs Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) as a tool to stop gender violence.

“The campaign is asking people to act as leaders to combat men’s violence against women. Benjamin [Watson] and Gabe are taking the leadership responsibility seriously by stepping up, using their likeness and personal stories to get the message out,” said then Director of Sport in Society Peter Roby. “The New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox hav also shown its commitment to this issue with the Pats and Red Sox being the first teams in their respective leagues to use MVP to educate their players about men’s violence against women.”

Posters featuring Kapler and Watson were distributed to universities and high schools throughout New England. Billboards appeared on MBTA trains and ads published in Sports Illustrated, Boston Magazine, and The Boston Metro. An interactive web site was also created, and coming soon a radio ad featuring Watson.


Liz Claiborne "Love Is Not Abuse" logo

PSA Uses High Profile College Football Athletes To Reposition Relationship Violence As A Men’s Issue

NEW YORK, NY – (September 23, 1996) – Liz Claiborne, Inc., the first major corporation to tackle the issue of relationship violence over five years ago through a program called “Women’s Work,” has developed a new 30-second public service announcement (PSA) using high-profile college football student athletes and a cutting edge approach to the issue. The PSA was developed in partnership with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society (MVP) and is being distributed in conjunction with the College Football Association.

Speaking directly to men about breaking the code of silence surrounding relationship violence, the PSA takes an innovative approach to addressing the issue.

It goes beyond simply raising awareness of abuse by proactively discouraging men from participating in relationship violence or tolerating it in others.

A key to focusing men’s attention on this issue is the use of high-profile college football student athletes as role models. “By using athletes as icons of masculinity, we hope to reposition men’s violence against women as a men’s issue, and point out the need for male leadership in an area where up to now there has been very little male initiative,” says Jackson Katz, Director, Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

The spot also portrays men and women as bystanders intolerant of relationship violence and uses an entire stadium to represent all of society. “We want to make it clear that everyone on the sidelines — men and women — can and should actively help to end this problem by making it socially unacceptable,” says Jerome A. Chazen, chairman emeritus, Liz Claiborne, Inc.


Public Service Announcement

The PSA is set at a crowded football stadium. Various messages flash on the stadium scoreboard, such as: “Happy 8th Birthday to Alex Burnard” and “Brown Four-Door Sedan License # JRZ-847 You Left Your Lights On.” Suddenly, the stadium becomes eerily silent as fans and players look up at a new message: “Greg Niel, Sec. 829, Seat 12 Beat Up His Girlfriend Last Night.” Close-ups of fans and players looking at the scoreboard in shock and disgust appear.

An athlete on the field addresses the camera, “If you think hitting a woman makes you a big man, you won’t mind if we let 70,000 people see what kind of man you really are.” A voice over intones, “Every 12 seconds a woman in this country is abused. Isn’t it time to speak out? Get involved, end relationship violence. Love Is Not Abuse.” The following message then appears on the screen, “To help or get help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.”

The PSA has been regionalized with football players from four different athletic conferences. They are:

  • Matt Russell, Inside Linebacker, Univ. of Colorado (Big 12 Conference)
  • Chad Johnston, Quarterback, West Virginia Univ. (Big East Conference)
  • Paul Beckwith, Center, Univ. of South Carolina (Southeastern Conference)
  • James Hamilton, Outside Linebacker, Univ. of North Carolina (Atlantic Coast Conf.)

“Through participation in this PSA campaign, college football athletes are reinforcing proper relationship boundaries and the expectation for men to respect the women in their lives,” said Deborah Yow, director of athletics, University of Maryland (a College Football Association member institution). “They are setting an example for all men to follow.” The spot was created by Liz Claiborne’s advertising agency, New York-based Gotham, Inc., and directed by Robert Logevall of Bruce Dowad Associates.


PSA Airings

The PSA will be showcased in stadiums during college football games nationwide in October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. An overview of the in-stadium airing schedule follows:

Participating Schools, dates and opponents:

  • University of Nebraska  Oct. 12 vs. Baylor, Oct. 26 vs. Kansas
  • Rutgers University  Oct. 12 vs. Army (Giants Stadium)
  • Temple University  Oct. 19 vs. West Virginia (Veterans Stadium)
  • Kansas State University  Oct. 5 vs. Nebraska, Oct. 26 vs. Oklahoma
  • University of Hawaii  Oct. 5 vs. Colorado State, Oct. 19 vs. UNLV
  • University of Houston  Oct. 12 vs. Memphis, Oct. 26 vs. UNC
  • University of Texas  Oct. 5 vs. Oklahoma State
  • Texas A&M  Oct. 5 vs. Louisiana Tech, Oct. 19 vs. Kansas State, Oct. 26 vs. Texas Tech
  • Tulane University  Oct. 5 vs. Texas Christian, Oct. 12 vs. Louisville, Oct. 26 vs. Southern Mississippi
  • Oklahoma State  Oct. 19 vs. Iowa State

The regionalized spots will also be broadcast in October during syndicated regional television coverage of college football games, and on SportsChannel in New England.


PSA Partners

The concept of “intergender collaboration” — men and women working together to end relationship violence — is embodied through the partnership of Liz Claiborne, Inc., Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and the College Football Association. Liz Claiborne, Inc. also hopes this public-private sector collaboration will serve as a model for other companies and non-profit organizations to follow in an effort to create positive social change.

The Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, seeks to increase awareness of sport and its relation to society, and to develop activist programs that identify problems, offer solutions, and promote the benefits of sport. Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Project was established in 1993 to increase the participation of student-athletes in campus-based efforts to prevent all forms of men’s violence against women, and to inspire men to take a leadership position with this issue.

The College Football Association is the organization which unites 70 Division 1-A major football playing institutions and includes the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Southeastern, and Western Athletic conferences. The College Football Association provides a forum in which member institutions discuss issues unique to major college football.